The Dachshund is a breed of dog that is known to have many back problems. Just by looking at the shape of his body (with a long back and short legs) you will immediately get the impression that his spine is under a lot of strain. If you add in factors such as the difficulty he has with his short legs to go up and down stairs, you will get an idea of the extreme force that is exerted on the dachshunds back. Because of this high risk of back injury, it is crucial that you be able to determine if your dog has problems and know what to do if he does.
Identify The Symptoms of Back Pain
1-Be aware of the subtle symptoms of spinal pain: These can vary greatly from a dog with mild discomfort that seems calmer than usual to a dog that has a severe disc protrusion, cannot use his hind legs at all times and is paralyzed. Here are some subtle signs of back pain that may indicate the presence of a possible problem.
*Reluctance to move: The pain associated with back problems prevents the dog from wanting to move and he may stay in one place with his head down. He may whimper or scream if you try to put his collar on. Some dogs refuse to eat or drink water because they feel pain when they have to bend their head down toward their bowl.
*Arching back: Many dogs with spinal pain adopt a twisted back position, stand stiffly and are cautious in their movements.
*A change in behavior: the dog may not want to jump on his favorite couch or may not be able to climb the stairs to bed.
2-Take your dog’s reaction to pain seriously: Spinal pain is very painful and many dogs express it by whining or howling. They may even cry in anticipation of pain when asked to move. Your dog is not exaggerating when he screams in pain.
3-Take the dog to the vet immediately: Do this when the dog has sudden paralysis. If the pressure on the spinal cord is very strong, it can cause nerve damage. This mainly affects the hind legs. The animal may not be able to stand and its hind and front legs may slip when it tries to move forward. If the pet is suddenly paralyzed, you should take it to a veterinarian to examine and treat the damage to the spine.
*Severe paralysis can interfere with bladder and bowel function. As a result, the dog may suffer from incontinence or will not be able to empty his bladder. The veterinarian should give you instructions on how to treat this problem.
4-Force the animal to stay still: If your Dachshund shows signs of back pain, you should limit his movements to force him to rest. Don’t let him move around the house. Instead, restrict his movements to a puppy crate while you make your vet appointment.
*To take your dog to the vet, put him in the car and drive him to the doctor’s office. If you move him improperly, an intervertebral disc may break.
Related Post : Tips For Treating Back Problems in Dachshunds
Diagnosing Spinal Pain
1-Have the pet examined by a veterinarian: The veterinarian will perform a physical examination, which will include an assessment of other problems that may be causing pain and resemble back pain. The veterinarian will support the dog’s back and turn the back of the leg so that it is resting on the ground. This will check to see if the dog notices that the leg is in a bad position and corrects it. If not, this could indicate nerve damage. In addition, the veterinarian will check other nerve reflexes (such as the ability to feel pain in the toes) to determine if nerves have been damaged.
*The doctor will gently touch the spinal region and pay close attention to local tender areas and muscle fasciculation, which is where the muscles contract because they are sensitive to pain.
2-Allow the veterinarian to take an x-ray of the dog: If spinal pain is confirmed, the veterinarian may recommend an imaging test to determine the cause. Pain can be caused by dislocated or contracted muscles, inflammatory nerve disease, spondylitis or arthritis of the spine, and disc disease, among other things. X-rays of the spine are commonly used diagnostic tests in veterinary clinics. Each section of the spine will be scanned one after the other (depending on the location of potential damage), namely the lower back, chest and neck.
*In general, the radiograph will be taken in each area from two viewpoints to allow comparison. One will be from the side (lateral) and the other will be from above or below (dorsoventral or ventrodorsal.
*X-ray can provide useful information about the bones of the spine and the spaces between them, but it cannot provide an image of the spinal cord itself. For that, more advanced imaging methods will be needed.
*One of the limitations of x-rays is that they can mislead you. For example, a narrow gap between two vertebrae is abnormal and indicates that the disc is diseased. However, the disc could have been ruptured on its side without putting pressure on the spinal cord. Therefore, x-rays can provide a clue that can be interpreted as a diagnosis, given the clinical signs
3-Talk to your veterinarian: Ask about the possibility of a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or CT scan instead of an X-ray. More sophisticated imaging techniques have replaced X-rays. These techniques allow the spinal cord to be visualized. Therefore, if a disc is down in the spine, the doctor will be able to see the waistline in the spine, where it is compressed.
*This information is essential if specialized decompression surgery is being considered, as it will allow the surgeon to know exactly which discs are affected and to operate in the appropriate area.
*Unfortunately, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and CT scans are very expensive. In addition, the dog will also need to be anesthetized to remain immobile in the machine. This represents an additional cost and a greater risk to the animal’s health.
Avoiding Back Problems
1-Avoid having your Dachshund jump off furniture: Also, make sure he doesn’t go up or down stairs. As mentioned earlier, Dachshunds are prone to back problems, as they are doubly stressed by their prematurely aging discs and body shape. A wise precaution that every dachshund owner should keep in mind is to prevent their dog from going up or down stairs, as this puts pressure on the pet’s spine.
*You can place dog safety gates at the top and bottom of the stairs. This will prevent the pet from going up or down without your supervision.
2-Help your dog get on furniture: You can place dog steps near your bed if the pet sleeps with you. These are a set of small steps that allow dogs with small paws to reach a surface they can’t jump on.
*You also have the option of placing this device in front of your couch or any other piece of furniture that you want your dog to have access to.
3-Force your Dachshund to rest if it is slightly injured: If the animal shows symptoms of spinal pain, you should confine it to a puppy crate so that it is completely at rest. In the case of minor injuries, this will help relieve the inflammation in the spine.
4-Understand why Dachshunds often have back injuries: These dogs are prone to intervertebral disc disease or disc herniation. To understand why disc degeneration can be so painful, it will help to know the anatomy of the spine. The spine is not a rigid rod, it has some flexibility because it is made up of smaller bones, called vertebrae. Each vertebra has a hollow arch, through which the spinal cord passes. Each vertebra is protected from its neighbor by an intervertebral disc, which looks like a spongy doughnut. The discs are attached to the solid body of the vertebra, but they must not penetrate the spinal cord at all
*Each disc has a spongy center (the nucleus pulposus) surrounded by a more fibrous body (the annulus fibrosus). The disc can be damaged if the liquid core solidifies and loses its cushioning effect or if the fibrous body ages and becomes brittle and prone to cracking or fracture.
*If force is applied (e.g., when the dog jumps off a chair or bends in a strange way), the disc is prone to fractures and tears. If the nucleus pulposus (now solid) lifts, it puts pressure on the spinal cord, which will cause pain. If the disc breaks completely, it can force the contents of the nucleus pulposus into the spinal cord and cause nerve damage.
*Dachshunds (as well as other breeds such as Shih Tzu and Pekingese) have a genetic predisposition to premature aging of the disc cartilage. This, coupled with the force exerted on the structure of the spine, makes them susceptible to spinal pain at an early age